Recently my wife and I watched a television special on foster children and their viewpoints from within the system. While the show profiled multiple children, the very last boy is the one that I can’t forget.
A soft-spoken, 14 year-old young man with a pleasant demeanor, Rashad had been in over 20 foster homes since he entered the foster care system at the age of 8. The profile focused on his love of music and singing, and by all appearances his physical needs were being met. The thing that struck me was the look in his eyes. There was a sadness, an emptiness. He expressed polite appreciation for his current foster-mother, but the show ended with him making this statement:
“Some parents don’t want teenagers; they want younger kids, but I’m not like some teenagers. I think a lot of people would be happy to have me. I’m a nice person and I care about people. I’ve been told I have a big heart, and I deserve love just like anybody else. If I get adopted, I will stay there and I won’t move again. And I’ll be happy.”
The program ended, and I was left with just one thought: This boy has reached the point that he feels the need to pitch himself in order to find a family. I don’t know about you, but that wrecks me.
Children should not need to sell us on the fact that they deserve to be part of a family. Even if we choose to look at this issue strictly from the standpoint of social justice, it’s not right. As Christians, when we consider our adoption as children of God, allowing these children to reach this point flies in the very face of our own salvation. We didn’t have to pitch ourselves to God. That never would have worked. Matthew 7:21-23 actually talks about how this would play out, and it’s not pretty. At the final judgment, many people will try to “make their pitch”, but it won’t be enough. If we relied on our own merits or qualifications, there wouldn’t be a single one of us that could call ourselves a child of God. Amazingly, God didn’t sit back and wait for us to come to Him–He came to us.
Romans 5:8 says it perfectly, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Before we could drum up a list of why He should consider us, God sent His only Son to make it possible for us to be adopted. He didn’t just send Jesus to point us in the right direction, He sent him to DIE on our behalf. His death paid the adoption fee. We never had to make a single plea, we only had to accept the gift that God held out to us.
Perhaps we don’t have the proper view on orphan care because we don’t have the proper view of our own salvation. If we really, I mean REALLY grasp the fact that God wanted to be our Father so badly that He sacrificed Jesus for us (Isaiah 53:5), the gratitude that will result from that realization should overflow and make caring for orphans a natural expression of God’s love.
What if the Church pursued the fatherless children of this world the same way that God pursued us? I can only imagine how that would look, but one thing I do know for sure … there would be no more desperate sales pitches for the love of a family.